Project Communication Management

Project Communications
Mohammad A. Rob
Importance of Good Communications
 The greatest threat to many projects is a failure
to communicate
 Our culture does not portray IT professionals as
being good communicators
 Research shows that IT professionals must be
able to communicate effectively to succeed in
their positions
 Strong verbal skills are a key factor in career
advancement for IT professionals
What is Project Communications
 The goal of project communications
management is to ensure timely and appropriate
generation, collection, dissemination, storage,
and disposition of project information
 It provides the critical links among people,
ideas, and information that are necessary for
 Everyone involved in the project must
understand how the communications in which
they are involved can affect the project as a
Project Communications Management
 Communications planning: determining the
information and communications needs of the
 Information distribution: making needed
information available in a timely manner
 Performance reporting: collecting and
disseminating performance information
 Administrative closure: generating, gathering,
and disseminating information to formalize
phase or project completion
Communications Planning
 Communication planning involves determining the
information and communication needs of the
stakeholders, when they will need it, how it will be given
to them, and by whom
 The main input to this process is communication
requirements, which includes information such as:
– project organization and stakeholder responsibility relationship
– disciplines, departments, and specialties involved in the project
– number of people involved and their location
 The main tool for this process is a stakeholder
analysis for project communications
 The main output is a communications management
plan - a document that guides project communications
Communications Management Plan
 A description of a collection and filing structure for gathering and
storing various types of information - organizing documents
 A distribution structure describing what information goes to whom,
when, and how. Do executives receive different formats of status
 A format for communicating key project information. Is there a
template for preparing status report? Hard copy or e-mail?
 A project schedule for producing the information. Do stakeholders
know when to expect status report?
 Access methods for obtaining the information - who can see what
documents, what information is online, etc.
 A method for updating the communications management plans as
the project progresses and develops. Who will update?
 A stakeholder communications analysis. What kinds of information
will be distributed to which stakeholder?
Sample Stakeholder Analysis for Project
Document Name
Contact Person Due
Monthly Status
Hard copy
Gail Feldman,
Tony Silva
First of month
Business Staff
Monthly Status
Hard copy
Julie Grant,
First of month
Technical Staff
Monthly Status
Monthly Status
Hard copy
Bob Thomson
First of month
Business and
Technical Staff
Monthly Status
Angie Liu
First of month
Training Plan
Hard Copy
Jonathan Kraus
Barbara Gates
Jeff Martin
Evan Dodge,
First of month
Nancy Michaels
Information Distribution
 Information distribution involves making needed
information available to project stakeholders in a timely
 The inputs to this process include work results, project
plan, and communication management plan
 Tools and techniques include:
– communication skills (oral, written, formal, informal, etc.)
– information retrieval systems (drawing, presentation, test plan)
– information distribution method (hardcopy, e-mail, intranet, etc.)
 The outputs include:
– project records (correspondence, memos, documents - all
– project reports (formal project reports on status an/or issues)
– project presentations (formal or informal, and per audience)
Information Distribution
 Important considerations for information distribution:
– using technology such as e-mails, telephones, Web.
Intranet can be used to make available form
templates, project documents (design, schedule, etc.)
– Formal method of information distribution: includes a
PowerPoint presentation or a status report.
– Informal method of information distribution: includes a
discussion over a cup of coffee
– sending e-mails often to a large number people
normally have adverse effect on a project, creating a
complexity in communication
– e-mail is also not a good communication mechanism
for expressing ones feeling
The Impact of the Number of People on
Communications Channels
 An important aspect of information distribution is the
number of people involved in a project
 As the number of people involved increases, the
complexity of communication also increases
 Number of communication channel increases with the
increasing number of people
 A simple formula to calculate the number of
communication channel is:
– number of communication channel = n(n-1)/2
– where n is the number of people
 Thus two people will have one communication channel,
but four people will have six channels
 Thus, large projects need to break into smaller parts
The Impact of the Number of People on
Communications Channels
Performance Reporting
 Reporting keeps stakeholders informed about how
resources are being used to achieve project objectives
– Status reports describe where the project stands at a specific
point in time. It addresses where project stands in terms of
meeting scope, time, and cost. How long did it take to complete
a task?
– Progress reports describe what the project team has
accomplished during a certain period of time. Team members
often submit weekly or monthly reports and tem leader
consolidates those reports for upper management
– Project forecasting predicts future project status and progress
based on past information and trends. How long it will take to
complete a task based on the past performance
– Status review meetings are used to have face-to-face
discussion, exchange project information, motivate people, and
empower people to be accountable for their work. It can be a
battleground to explode conflicts between team members
Administrative Closure
 A project or phase of a project requires closure
 Administrative closure consists of verifying and
documenting project results
 It also allows time to collect project records, ensure that
the records reflect final specification, analyze project
effectiveness, and archive information for future use
 The main outputs of administrative closure are:
– project archives: A complete set of organized project records
that provide an accurate history of the project
– formal acceptance: a document that the project sponsor and/or
customer signs to show that they have accepted the project’s
– lessons learned: statements written by project managers and
team members about new experiences through the project
Administrative Closure
 Project archives often become handy many years after
completion of the project. When is system is upgraded,
it is important to look at the design of the system
 Formal acceptance helps to end the project and avoids
dragging out project termination
 In a contract situation, the buyer must legally accept the
products, so the seller can receive payment.
 The project team members should prepare a lesson
learned report that should contain items such as causes
of variances (in scope, time, cost), reasoning behind
corrective actions taken, new tools and techniques used,
and personal wisdom based on the team members’
Suggestions for Improving Project
 Good communication is vital to the management
and success of a project
 Applying few methodologies can improve
communication. They are:
– Resolve conflicts effectively
– Develop better communication skills
– Run effective meetings
– Use templates for project communications
Conflict Handling Modes
 Project issues such as schedule, priorities, staffing,
technical matters, administrative procedures,
personalities, and cost - all contribute to conflicts
 When the stakes (salary, prestige) are high, conflicts
arise; when the potential for conflict is high, good
communication is necessary
 There are five basic modes of conflict resolution:
– Confrontation: directly face a conflict and allow the parties to
work together to resolve the problem
– Compromise: use a give-and-take approach
– Smoothing: de-emphasize areas of differences and emphasize
areas of agreement
– Forcing: exert a viewpoint over another
– Withdrawal: retreat or withdraw from an actual or potential
disagreement. It is least effective
Developing Better Communication Skills
 Most information technology professional enter the field
because of their technical skills, however, most find that
communication skills are the key to advancing their
 Most companies spend a lot of money for technical
training, some other do for both technical and
communication skills
 Senior management needs to have high standards for
presentations, reporting, and behavior towards others
 Allocation of time for report or presentation preparation,
meeting with customers, and assisting when necessary,
are important
 Communication can be improved through proper
planning, support, and leadership form management
Running Effective Meetings
 A well-run meeting can be a vehicle for fostering team
building and reinforcing expectations, roles,
relationships, and commitment to the project.
 A poorly run meeting can have a detrimental effect on a
 Some guidelines for improving meetings:
Define the purpose and intended outcome of the meeting
Determine who should attend the meeting
Provide an agenda to participants before meeting
Prepare handouts, visual aids, and logistics
Run meetings professionally: have ground rules, control time,
encourage participation, summarize key issues, clarify decisions
and actions, and have minutes takes
– Make meetings fun with some activities
– Avoid meetings when not necessary
Use Templates: Sample Template for a
Monthly Progress Report
Accomplishments for Month of January (or appropriate month):
Describe most important accomplishments. Relate to project's Gantt chart
Describe other important accomplishments, one bullet for each. If any issues were
resolved from the previous month, list them as accomplishments.
Plans for February (or following month):
Describe most important items to be accomplished in the next month. Again relate
to the project's Gantt chart.
Describe other important items to accomplish, one bullet for each
Issues: Briefly list important issues that surfaced or are still important. Managers
hate surprises and want to help the project succeed, so be sure to list issues.
Project Changes (Date and Description): List any approved or requested
changes to the project. Include the date of the change and a brief description.
Outline for a Final Project Report
Cover page
Table of contents and executive summary (for a long report)
Need for the project
Project description and letter of agreement
Overall outcome of the project and reasons for success or failure
Project management tools and techniques used and assessment of them
Project team recommendations and future considerations
Final project Gantt chart
Attachments with all deliverables
Outline of a Final Project
Project description
Project proposal and backup data (request for proposal, statement of work,
proposal correspondence, and so on)
Original and revised contract information and client acceptance documents
Original and revised project plans and schedules (WBS, Gantt and PERT charts,
cost estimates, communications management plan, etc.)
Design documents
Final project report
Deliverables, as appropriate
Audit reports
Lessons learned reports
Copies of all status reports, meeting minutes, change notices, and other written
and electronic communications
Developing a Communications Infrastructure
 A communications infrastructure is a set of tools,
techniques, and principles that provide a foundation for the
effective transfer of information
– Tools include e-mail, project management software,
groupware, fax machines, telephones, teleconferencing
systems, document management systems, and word
– Techniques include reporting guidelines and templates,
meeting ground rules and procedures, decision-making
processes, problem-solving approaches, and conflict
resolution and negotiation techniques
– Principles include using open dialog and an agreed
upon work ethic
Using Software to Assist in Project
 One of the biggest problems on large projects is
providing most recent project plans, Gantt charts,
specifications, meeting information, change requests,
and so on to all or selected stakeholders
 There are many software tools to aid in project
 Microsoft Project Central is a companion product of
Microsoft Project, which helps facilitate collaboration and
communication between project stakeholder over the